Posts Tagged ‘Lewis Burwell’

Kingsmill W-47: Not Erected

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012


Kingsmill Plantation, the home of Col. Lewis Burwell, was built in the mid-1730s and consisted of a mansion, outbuildings, garden, and 1,400 acres. The house burned in 1843. Only the office and the kitchen still stand; they are among the earliest brick dependencies in Virginia. Burwell, the naval officer (colonial customs inspector) for the upper James River, built his inspection station here at Burwell’s Landing, which included a tavern, storehouse, warehouse, and ferry house. In Nov. 1775, American riflemen skirmished nearby with British naval vessels; later, the Americans built two earthen forts here that the British captured in 1781.

Further Research

One of Remaining Houses on Kingsmill Plantation

Richard Kingsmill, who was granted one of the first land grants by the Virginia Company, initially purchased the land that Kingsmill Plantation was located. In the mid-1730s, colonial customs inspector and British Colonel Lewis Burwell III purchased 1,400 acres of Kingsmill’s original plot, and constructed a plantation with several other structures. The headquarters of his inspection station (Burwell’s Landing) was also located on the property along the James River, which included a tavern, warehouse, and ferry.

Kingsmill Archaeological Site

Kingsmill Plantation saw action in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. As Patriot forces began to assemble near Williamsburg in the fall of 1775, the Colonial Governor of Virginia Lord Dunmore ordered that British ships patrol the James River to stop potential ferry crossings of these rebels. On Sunday, November 5th, militiamen from Chesterfield County began to assemble near Williamsburg with intentions to embark upon Norfolk. The British vessel the Kingfisher patrolled the river with three other supporting tenders, but failed in stopping a thousands Colonial militiamen from crossing the river. Despite this, the Kingfisher exchanged fire with a Colonial vessel at Burwell’s Ferry without any decisive action. At the end of the War in 1781, French forces under the Marquis de Lafayette utilized Burwell’s Landing as they docked and moved inland from there. Later that year in January, Colonial General Thomas Nelson and his militia foiled Benedict Arnold’s plan to land at Burwell’s Ferry.

Lord Dunmore

Many battles in the Civil War were also fought in the vicinity of Kingsmill Plantation. Union General George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign engulfed the plantation, as an army of 120,000 men landed and moved inland through the area with the task of reaching Richmond. Several Confederate defensive lines also ran through the property such as the Warwick Line, and the Williamsburg Line. On May 6th of 1865, the Battle of Williamsburg was fought here where the Confederates lost 1,682 men and the Union lost 2,283.

Present Day Kingsmill Plantation

Today resorts, theme parks, a brewery, and a golf course have enveloped much of the Kingsmill land. Busch Gardens, Kingsmill Resort, and the community of Kingsmill on the James are all located on this former plantation.


Further Reading

Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. McFarland, 2000.

John S. Salmon, compiler. A Guidebook to Virginia’s Historical Markers, Revised and Expanded Edition. University Press of Virginia, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To The Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. 1st ed. Mariner Books, 2001.

Photo Credits

“One of remaining houses on Kingsmill Plantation,” National Park Service, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Kingsmill archaeological site,” National Park Service, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Lord Dunmore,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Present Day Kingsmill Plantation,” Golf Williamsburg, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources – This marker has since been removed due to construction.

Quarterpath Road W-42

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012


James Bray owned land nearby in Middle Plantation by the 1650s, and Quarterpath Road probably began as a horse path to one of Bray’s quarters or farm units. Over the years, the road was improved; it extended to Col. Lewis Burwell’s landing on the James River by the early eighteenth century. As Williamsburg grew, Quarterpath Road became one of the principal routes by which travelers and trade goods were brought into the colonial capital.

Further Research

Field school students excavating near a brick chimney foundation at the Quarterpath Road site

Very little remains in Williamsburg in regard to defenses during the Civil War. Quarterpath Road shows the placement of a Confederate line, however (Konstam, 91). It was located within site of one confederate fort named Fort Magruder. It was a highly defensible point which also had a view over the point where York and Hampton Roads met. The Confederate troops had set up earthworks of a sort to aid in defense, but the area had revolutionary works still remaining from years past. There were issues, though, such as the possibility of Williamsburg being completely bypassed via the James River (Dubbs, 69).

Depiction of a fight at Fort Magruder

General Magruder, of the fort, had requested for both reinforcements and a blockade of the James River with sunken ships. The second request did not happen, but Magruder and the Confederates did gain some reinforcements, as did the Federal troops under McClellan. Over the course of one month, the numbers of the Confederate and Union troops would increase to roughly 54,000 and 112,000 men, respectively. A series of small skirmishes would take place over the entirety of the Hampton Roads and Yorktown areas (Dubbs, 69-87). It was more or less a Union victory.

Middle Plantation was also an important place, though not for the same reasons. With the burning down of Jamestown when Nathaniel Bacon and his followers left, Virginia’s General Assembly met several times at the Middle Plantation. Of the members, one was James Bray whom served as a councilor that died in 1692. Two other major things that came about in Middle Plantation include the Bruton Parish Church, as well as the College of William and Mary (Morgan, 24).

Further Reading

Dubbs, Carol K. Defend This Old Town: Williamsburg During the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 2002.

Konstam, Angus. Fair Oaks 1862. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2003.

Morgan, Timothy E. Williamsburg: A City That History Made. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Photo Credits

“Depiction of a fight at Fort Magruder,” CWDG Online, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Field school students excavating near a brick chimney foundation at the Quarterpath Road site,” The African Diaspora Archaeology Network, (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “Quarterpath Road W-42,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.


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Department of Historic Resources